Prior to acquiring Michael Bennett from the New England Patriots for a conditional seventh-round draft pick the Dallas Cowboys defensive line was really good at getting after the passer. DeMarcus Lawrence with 3.5 sacks and Robert Quinn with six sacks have been excellent this year.
Lawrence and Quinn have been so good and at the same time, they’ve been two of the most double-teamed defensive linemen in the NFL.
Double team rate as an edge rusher (x) by pass rush win rate (overall, not just vs. double teams) as an edge rusher (y). Labeled some notables. ESPN stat, NFL Next Gen Stats data.
With as good as they’ve been despite being double-teamed as frequently as they have, the rest of the Dallas Cowboys defensive line should be more productive than they’ve been. In acquiring Michael Bennett, the Dallas Cowboys have added another player that opposing offenses are going to have to account for.
Per ESPN Pass Rush Metrics via NFL’s Next Gen Stats, the Dallas Cowboys boast three players in the top 11 of defensive linemen in pass rush win rate when facing a singular blocker. Robert Quinn (2nd), Michael Bennett (6th), and DeMarcus Lawrence (11th) provide the Dallas Cowboys with three players that have been excellent this season in getting after the passer.
One of the things that needed to be better for the Dallas Cowboys coming out of the bye week. With the addition of Michael Bennett, the Cowboys added a player that can rush from the 3-technique spot during passing situations. When the Cowboys are able to get Lawrence, Quinn, and Bennett on the field at the same time opposing defenses are going to struggle with where to slide their protection. They can’t just focus on Lawrence or Quinn moving forward with how good Bennett can be from the inside.
Having three players that you can rely on to consistently win their 1-on-1 matchups is going to be huge for the Cowboys moving forward. One could argue that the biggest issue they’ve had this season is not getting enough from the interior when Quinn and Lawrence are being double-teamed. Bennett rushing from the middle should allow Quinn and Lawrence to have more 1-on-1 matchups, which they’ve been winning at a pretty high rate.
The Cowboys will now deploy three players with a 10 sack season in Quinn, Lawrence, and Bennett.
If the offense can get a lead in games, they’ll have a field day lining up to go after opposing quarterbacks. With their upcoming schedule featuring Kirk Cousins, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, and athletic young quarterbacks in Mitch Trubisky, Daniel Jones, and Josh Allen.
The next nine games will put their defensive talent and their depth to the test as there aren’t any gimmes like they had in the early part of schedule aside from maybe the New York Giants this week on Monday Night Football or the Washington Redskins game week 17. Even those games, however, aren’t necessarily going to be easy as the Cowboys will play the Giants on the road and the Redskins generally play the Cowboys tough.
The Dallas Cowboys defense is going to be tough for those opposing offenses, even the Patriots, to deal with in the second half of the season and Lawrence, Quinn, and Bennett will be a big reason why. You can’t double every one and teams won’t likely double the same player regularly, which means each of these dynamic pass rushers will have their opportunity to shine.
Starting Monday night against the quarterback, there will be a race to the quarterback. It’s going to be fascinating to watch it unfold.